Tom Briscoe: Leeds Rhinos won't let injuries wreck their season

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Long-serving winger Tom Briscoe insists Leeds Rhinos are determined not to let injuries derail their season.

With a month of the campaign remaining, Rhinos - who play host to Huddersfield Giants tonight - are clinging on to a place in Betfred Super League’s all-important top-six.

But since the end of last month, when it seemed they were beginning to get somewhere close to full-strength, Rhinos have lost a succession of players to injuries which will keep them out of action for at least the rest of the regular season.

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Centre Konrad Hurrell (foot) and half-back Luke Gale (knee) are the latest victims after being hurt in last Friday’s big win at Leigh Centurions.

Tom Briscoe, pictured scoring at Castleford, is Rhinos' only ever-present in 2021. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.Tom Briscoe, pictured scoring at Castleford, is Rhinos' only ever-present in 2021. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.
Tom Briscoe, pictured scoring at Castleford, is Rhinos' only ever-present in 2021. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

They have joined Mikolaj Oledzki (toe), Alex Mellor (knee) and Liam Sutcliffe (knee) on the long-term casualty list and Jack Broadbent (ankle) has not played since early July.

In terms of getting Rhinos’ best players on the field at the same time, it has been a case of one step forward, two back all season and Briscoe - who is Leeds’ only ever-present in 2021 - admitted: “We can’t seem to shake that off.”

He said: “We get a few back and then we lose a few.

“It is just the story of the season and probably our performances are reflecting that.

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“We had a good win against Hull and then pushed a few teams close and we had another win last weekend, so it has been one of those seasons for us.”

Despite their continuing injury woes, Rhinos are sixth in Super League ahead of tonight’s game, with a 50 per cent winning record.

Only points difference separates them and Hull, in seventh, but if Leeds can hang on to their current placing they will qualify for the play-offs.

They control their own destiny and Briscoe said: “That’s the chat we’ve got at the moment - our season is in our own hands and it’s up to us to make sure it happens and we stay in that top-six.

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“We’ll just take it a game at a time and make sure we keep ticking the wins off.

“But I think more important is the performances going into the play-offs; we don’t want to be just scraping in, we want to be flying come play-offs time.”

Rhinos have shown in patches this year they can put teams to the sword, but being unable to build partnerships has held them back.

Briscoe accepted: “The combinations struggle when you haven’t got a consistent team.

“It is something we’ve got to deal with.

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“I suppose we’ve got to be good in training and make sure when people get that opportunity they take it.”

Giants have also had serious injury problems and Aidan Sezer, who will join Rhinos next year, is among the players on their casualty list, but fellow half-back Lee Gaskell, who kicked the winning drop goal against Rhinos in May, could return this evening.

That was the third successive meeting between the sides to be decided by a single point and Briscoe expects another close encounter tonight.

“Without a doubt,” he said.

“It is always a tough game, they are a big set and looking at the video we know they are coming down the middle so we need to make sure we are on defensively.

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“They complete high and are good with the ball so we need to be up there and competing in those stats as well.”

With Hurrell ruled out, Briscoe could switch to centre as he did when the Tongan limped off last week.

The 31-year-old needs three tries to reach 150 in Super League.

He played three games at centre when Hurrell was unavailable earlier this season and has put a hand up to do that again.

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“I enjoyed it,” he said of playing one position in from his usual role.

“If that’s what he [coach Richard Agar] wants, I am more than happy to fill in.”

Of the differences between wing and centre, Briscoe said: “To say it’s just one slot in, it is quite a lot different, even the physical side of things.

“Obviously in the centre you are defending two and three men in so you are involved in a lot more tackles.

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“On the wing it’s a lot more running, you are in the kick chase and then you are getting back to receive the kick as well.

“It is different, but I have enjoyed the change and feel I’ve gone well, so I am happy to fill in there.”

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